No one can pinpoint the exact moment that Black Friday got out of hand. Camping out in tents overnight for deals on electronics? Probably. Trampling people to get in to a Target? Definitely. And don't discount how much mobile preferences have played in this change. 

But the encouraging thing is that Millennials and Gen Z care less and less about that. They are concerned with the world around them. They have pushed forward the idea of buy one, give one. They have forced companies to make CSR a priority, evident in Giving Tuesday becoming a massive and growing initiative.

The numbers don't lie. 

Last year Giving Tuesday generated $168 million in charitable giving, 44% higher than the $116 million in 2015. Whole Whale projected $201 million this year. Two days later, the stats aren't fully in yet but Blackbaud has online donations up 28% this year meaning that number is absolutely possible. 

According to a study by Cone Communications, 92 percent of Gen Z will switch brands to one associated with a a good cause. But they aren't seeking out that information. Only 58% seek out CSR information before making a purchasing decision. 

What does this mean? How brands participate in Giving Tuesday can go a long way in developing brand loyalty with Gen Z. And Gen Z has access to $44 billion in buying power now. 

Of course, of course, brands should participate because it's the right thing to do. But it's important to notice that there is a real and increasing connection between cause and commerce. 

Causes lead commerce.

"In the past, CSR initiatives often felt like they were operating over on the side, tangential to what companies did, and were trotted out when they needed something positive to focus on.  said Rachel Hutchisson, Blackbaud's VP of corporate citizenship and philanthropy. Blackbaud was a founding partner of Giving Tuesday.

"But today, at a time when people deeply care about the value sets of the organizations they support (as donors, as consumers, as employees, as investors), being authentic is key."  

This has led brands to create deeper and stronger bonds with causes. It's a shift. While it was once customary to participate, it's becoming commonplace to lead and own the promotion of a cause. 

"Our key corporate partners -- Walgreens, NBC and M&M's -- have really embraced a "360" approach to Red Nose Day," said Janet Scardino, CEO Comic Relief USA. "Each partners' activation not only enhances their relationship with their target consumers and employees, but also drives impressive business results."

And that's the key right there, business results. The stats on Gen Z and Millennials are real and brands are noticing that if consumers can attach a brand with a cause they can impact the purchasing decision in a real way. 

"In addition to doing an enormous amount of good together for millions of children here in the US and internationally, for our partners Red Nose Day is much, much more than a CSR initiative -- it is a driver of brand-love," said Scardino. 

Brand love is so important in like industries (automotive, banking, etc.) where the differences between products or services aren't vast and the purchasing decision ultimately comes down to brand preference. 

"CSR is now deeply focused on its role in recruiting and retaining the very best people," said Hutchisson. "At Blackbaud, 86% of people tell us that it mattered to them that we work with social good organizations when they joined the company."

You don't have to be a big brand to play in Giving Tuesday. 

Small businesses can use this approach on a local level. Startups can apply this model from the very beginning to achieve growth. It's a simple process.

  1. Identify a cause that fits your brand messaging and audience
  2. Look for room to carve out your own place or objective you can drive with that cause
  3. Continue you to reinforce this partnership in your messaging

Leveraging a large day like Giving Tuesday can create increased exposure for small businesses or other non-profits. 

"Participating in #GivingTuesday affords us the opportunity to reach a broader spectrum of socially responsible brands and younger donors who might not otherwise be familiar with Bob's story or with our mission," said Anne Marie Dougherty, executive director of the Bob Woodruff Foundation "We've found that most young people share the desire to support post-9/11 vets, but they don't necessarily know how. Through #GivingTuesday we've been able to show young people how to give back to veterans while also reinforcing our nonprofit as a top choice for donations."

What's the takeaway?

If you're a small business looks for ways to get involved with larger causes to increase your reach. But make sure you stay authentic. If you're a large business, create opportunities for non-competing small businesses to get involved and elevate them. Think of that as an extension of American Express' Small Business Saturday. And if you're creating a startup, develop your business plan with a cause in mind.



Published on: Nov 30, 2017